I have a friend, she is a yoga teacher but also a mum of two and has two other regular jobs and loads more. She does her everyday practice – every day. Sun or rain, sick or not. That was the part when I realised she is a Superwoman. – I have a terrible cold. So you’re not coming to class? Of course I am, I’ll just go through it!
And then there is me. I find the will to look at my yoga mat and even to practice when I feel the cold is coming. Having this belief that if I do my practice I will convince myself that there is no cold and therefore there will be no cold/flu/bug/virus. It works not so often as up to that moment I already didn’t sleep for several night because someone else in our home had the bug. So usually I end up in bed by the end of that day. There, I have two options – bitch myself about being sick or giving myself time to recover. Surprise, surprise – the other option does bring everything into balance much more efficiently. Not bitching and home remedies. About those a wee later.
So doing Yoga when you’re not well is in the same range as Shavasana. The most difficult pose of them all. No seriously. Because it’s purpose, it’s point, is to allow your body to rest while staying present with your mind. And I see it everyday in classes – not many do. So if you get that type of flu where everything aches do Shavasana, do Yoga Nidra, do Restorative yoga or just don’t do anything but sleep. AND BE OK WITH IT. It is your body, your reality. No sense in competing with anyone. Now, that’s real yoga.
But of course, if you are Wonder Person (like my friend) you can get the virus out of your system with dedicated practice as well. Once I get to that stage I will write down few poses that might be helpful at that point. For now the best advice – Find what works for you, today.
To finish this up, because health comes from within – our families best recipes for all those nursery bugs that just won’t stop jumping around are as follows.
Definitely number 1. HORSERADISH. It does everything antibiotic would but with no side effects. Bronchitis, sinusitis, cough and cold. You name it, horseradish deals with it. If you are not brave or masochistic enough to take it straight from a spoon, add a few spoons to meals or mix it up with few spoons of sour cream and a pinch of salt and enjoy on everything you eat. Until that cough is gone. And it helps with back pain, or any pain.
To no surprise GARLIC, LEMON, HONEY & CINNAMON. What I found worked best, especially with kids – mixing one squashed clove of garlic with tsp of honey, half of lemon juice, cinnamon as desired and a wee bit of warm water to melt the honey. Drink it fast and enjoy the health boost.
If there is no way a person with a cough will take that horseradish (under 5’s) there is BANANA&HONEY homemade syrup that actually works (unlike the ones from shelves). Squash one ripe banana, cover with hot water, when the water cools a bit add honey. Drink/eat as often and as much as you like.
Let’s not forget essential oils – Oregano (just one drop to at least 10 ml base oil) and Peppermint (one drop) massaged into feet will help the body to fight high fever and builds up its immune response. Of course making sure they are of good quality.
Good thing with colds – once I’m done I appreciate my on and off mat time even more 🙂
Due to the fact our weekends if for some reason we are not out in nature and wild become a chaotic tornadoes that can easily bring someone (the weakest link that day in the family) up to a breaking point, I’ve dreaded a little bit this year’s long Easter holidays. It did take a few days of steaming off, for us all and our wee fury friends blow to the knee didn’t help with the mood, but somehow we went through it all not only with smile but with something completely new. The result was amazing.
For the first time when asked how are you I say great, we had the perfect holidays, and although I have no idea if the other person actually wants to know or not what we’ve been up to I start blabbing about the camp fires, and worm charming and well enormous amount of cool things we were doing. The more I am talking about our holidays the more I appreciate them and although lately I often see articles even books on gratitude and how much it can enrich persons life now practising it unconsciously I realised those claims were true. Even as I am writing this I think about how lucky I am my kids know so much about gratitude that being with them gave me insight (because I would never manage to read all those books) into one whole new world.
Here are commands to be learned from children:
Time can be bended to our needs
Without school run we were able to have breakfast long into the morning. No that on its own is a treasure to keep. Hope we’ll manage to get out of bed early enough to allow are bellies to indulge themselves in this kind of peace.
Not once did I hurried them up – break for the nervous system and more fluid communication that would then lead to preparing lunch without yelling, them having enough time to develop their games, invent new ones, create amazing masterpieces and after all that spend great deal of time outdoors. We would go for a Treasure hunt and take our time, not focusing on the hunt but on everything that was of interest to one of us. Stopping to play hide&seek or just munching on some snacks. With my hypermobility enhanced nervous system this was like being reborn. For the first time in my life I wasn’t running anywhere. I would walk in my six years old sons steps rather then making him run trying to catch my hurried ones.
The only time we used the clock was not the miss the ‘peaceful bedtime routine’ (that half an hour opening that is crucial to start getting them into bed before all throughout the day collected emotions explode). And so much more peaceful it was.
It sounds easy, but it took me some time to get there. And it needed a lot of yoga and mindfulness and lot less coffee to get there. And now when we sit around camp fire and my scientist busy husband wants to go (who knows where after an hour) I am able to look and if everyone else is cool with us being with fire support staying in the moment rather then rushing out who knows where and more importantly who knows why?
I remember reading about a couple who sell all their things and started to travel around the world in a motorhome with their son. First thing she said was how good it was having breakfast at peace without rushing to work and nursery. I fully agree and deeply desire to have something to sell and buy a motorhome.
Sulking is boring, forgiveness gives freedom
Brothers fight, that’s a fact of life. Our life. My life with my brother and my sons lives. (I am not saying there are no siblings that are not fighting. Congratulations to their parents). Having more time and being for some reason more observant it didn’t take me long to realise that if I leave them alone when they start fighting, they will make up faster, easier and continue to play like best friends ever. If however one of us takes sides deciding who has done wrong to whom the fighting continues and sometimes even escalates. At some point it became amazing to watch them. While in our adult world, specially marital disagreements, sulking can go on for ever and attacks become more vicious (because we remember rather than forgive and go on) the children fight and make up in a speed of light. Just this morning after a serious Ninjago Cards ownership disagreement their first day to school/creche began with hugs and kisses.
Realising how much less baggage that gives me to carry along the way. Sulking and keeping a grudge takes fun out of everything you are doing at that time and although we can bend time to our needs there isn’t indefinite time we were given. Why waste it?
Best things in life are free
When in doubt do yoga
For a yoga teacher it might sound strange but yes it does happen – I forget about the yogic breath in certain stressful moments and so on. Lucky enough my children don’t. And they are more open to invent their own poses. Used to see me practising it didn’t take them long to see how the practice can develop into some new fun and cool games. Not only did we re-direct a potential conflict into some creative bunny hops or flying trees and sand stars they reminded me you can practice any time any where at it will always feel good. Even if it is just for a five minutes. More aware of that I did start to stop and inhale before reacting much more often. The ultimate treasure.
Inspired with Easter holidays 2017 my decision is to start a gratitude diary each night before sleep and see where it will take us…<3
Yoga and Hypermobility
Starting Yoga, first thing that really amazed me was how graceful the movements of my teachers looked. Vinyasa and Power Yoga were my starting points. Of course I wanted to do that. And you know what? I was soooo goood at it. From the very first class. All bendy with my leg behind my head. Actually, I could always do that, it didn’t really have that much to do with yoga. As a kid, circus skills were my favourite – twisting my fingers in freaky manner, swallowing a whole orange like a piton was my relative and like I mentioned, both legs behind my head. Probably it was fun to have me in a class. And then after years of finding the right practice (running was so boring and I’ve managed to hurt my knee in a gym) there it was.
Finally here it was one thing I was almost as good as the teacher (talking about ego issues!). In my defence – that was ages ago. And also feeding my ego, without thinking it through – that’s a bitch. Harsh words? Fast forward 15 years later – apparently I was not soooo goood in yoga – I was JUST hypermobile. And trust me that is not a good thing when you are doing anything without really knowing what is going on in your body. It is not good when you have no idea that the flexible part will eventually get too flexible if there is no strong hold for it. And in my case I was not building strength. I was totally manipulating my overly mobile joints and ligaments. And then pregnancy came, then carrying baby on those loose joints and now without any strength exercise (because there was no time for it) and then another baby and all that relaxin hormone rushing through my body. Wow, how loose can one woman be? Well so loose that I had to start learning to walk again.
Finishing my 200 hours teacher training was a great thing. I’ve learn a lot. And now it was time to learn all over again. In a wider and deeper sense – from a hypermobile point of view. Bad always comes with good. So maybe there wasn’t a physio or a cranial therapist or any kind of doctor that could help me. And yes living in Edinburgh away from family that could help me maybe worsen my condition, but it gave me the opportunities to help myself. It gave me access to great teachers.
A road to recovery
Starting with Jumbo Truong’s workshop. And to be honest I really don’t know why I went to his workshop as I felt I was totally physically not capable of ever doing yoga again. Which was totally devastating mentally because that is the only thing that can calm my mind (and for some hypermobile people hormones do crazy mind games). But I did go and after two days the loose painful SI joint felt better (not without pain but better). The prolapse felt much better. Wait what? How? It was simple – I will not do the cool ab works everyone else was doing, I will do for me a safe variation. I will not be the best in the class. I will be doing the right thing for my body at this moment and I will go slowly (and my busy busy mind can’t stand that and I still sometimes go over top but now when I know the price it so much easier to not win battles over my own body).
And then there was Leslie Kaminoff . So far everyone was teaching the right way to be in a pose. It was the way that your heal HAS to be in Warrior. But it hurts my knee. Nevertheless that is the right way (see the photos in yoga books). And then Leslie’s words of wisdom – well no, your body is different than the body of the person beside you. Why and how could you look the same in the pose? Same revelation came in Yin Yoga teacher training with Clare Gates-Sjöblom. Going even deeper right into the bones. Literally into bones. like Temperance Brennan dissection of them. Guess what, they are so different that it’s actually not that hard for Temperance to give Booth some great clues. Same as they can give a teacher great clues about what might help to position their practitioners in a right way for their body. Seems like common sense but obviously we don’t always use that when practising. Thank you universe for revelations yoga practice brings.
So I started to modify and with the modifications build the strength instead of looking like an Instagram Yoga on the account of flexible bendy and at cost of my own joints. And when I was ready for more strength Janet McInnes lead me step deeper into the Forrest Yoga.
One step at the time, different teachers, different styles, different books, different articles and that is the answer – different things work differently for different people. Finding what is right for me or you is part of the game.
Yoga is not about touching toes
My own practice looks very different now and so does my teaching. And it changes from day to day. From time to time I see hypermobile practitioners in my class. And I see them doing what I was doing. Crumbling under their weight in Chaturanga (no strength) but doing the most exquisite Trikonasana ever (again little strength but a lot of flexibility). And when I get the chance I talk to them trying just to put them into the right direction. Some come back and I see their bodies evolving in a different and for them safe practice. Some run away. And maybe I would if someone told me 15 years ago I should not pull on my joints to look like a great yogi but instead use the muscles to strengthen them so they can protect joints. And actually this is something that should be applied for every yoga practitioner not just the flexi bendy ones. Hypermobility as a necessary part of every yoga teacher training. It is damaging enough for people who are HM that GP’s and physios don’t have any clue about it. (And believe me I’ve heard it all – like don’t worry with age your bones will get stiffer so you’ll have no problems at all. No, really, you get paid for that??). But to have a teacher who will push you happily into the pose and say to others yes this is how it’s done (is the ego again here?). No, please don’t make Yoga about the toe touching thing.
Yoga and Hypermobility Workshop
There is so much more to learn. New teacher equals a whole new experience. And like they say when you are ready – the teacher will come. One of my happy moments was founding Jess Glenny (thank you Janet :). A yoga teacher who knows about hypermobility from her own unique experience and still teaches yoga (when a lot of people told me I shouldn’t do it). Really happy moment. Having her here this Saturday, in Edinburgh, sharing that knowledge – even if I wasn’t HM this is one of those workshops I would not miss.
Moving Prayer I welcome you with open <3
As much as I love Star Wars this will not be a blog about yoga poses that Stormtroopers do every morning. It is more about ‘war’ and ‘stars’ and well obviously Yoga. It also has to do with my personal journey and letting go. Since writing has so far shown to be the best way for me to let go, here it goes.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… there was this great force, let’s call it Yoga practice, that helped a lot of people who tried to use it to feel better on all levels. As I felt strong disturbance in my back I decided to try Yoga. It helped immediately. It has seemed the force was strong in my family. So I found a Yoga Master (or he found me. Or as they say when an apprentice is ready the teacher will come) to teach me this ancient wisdom. Not an easy journey but well worth travelling. I’ve learned all about how much I have to learn in those three years and although when starting I never thought I myself might be the one teaching that is exactly where my path was going.
First I taught just from time to time, but after moving to another Galaxy this teaching became my sole source of income. Being a new teacher in a new galaxy, it was far from easy. Some doors opened some closed, but after a lot of rising up with the Sun and a lot of door to doors knocking with a wee Padawan to be in buggy and another in the belly, finally I got my Yoga teaching business going. It was like I had three babies – so big was my happiness about having my own work. However, the wee baby was soon to come and meet our family, so I needed another Master to look after this ‘yoga baby business’ until I return.
As always with the Universe when you wish for something you will get it. The Teacher came from the same planet we came! Oh, the joy and happiness, because for that last year there were some long long days and homesick moments. Everything seems easier when you have a friend to trust, even welcoming your wee bundle into this world. All was settled, a wee yoga Padawan number 2 came, but unfortunately we didn’t get much chance to enjoy our time. A painful injury during the birth made almost everything either impossible or painful.
My plan was to have a maternity leave for 2 months (very ambitious, indeed), but it took longer then that until I had my strength back and pain reduced to the point of being able to step into my teaching role back again. Well, not much longer, about 7 months. After all, there was nothing to worry about, my business was in safe hands. Or maybe it wasn’t? It seems that in Yoga War, just like in a real one, everything is permitted. Normally, you would thing Yoga is about peace of mind, finding a breath, about relaxation or even enlightenment, but seems like it is more about lots of other things as well.
Long story short, I didn’t get my classes back. It took me ages to get back on my feet. I had two under ‘5 in a country without an affordable nursery to cater for them. My injury hadn’t healed. Financially we were bad, but not as bad as my spirit. When that is hurt you may as well say bye bye to your good health. My wee Padawan is now well over 2, but I still haven’t healed which is why I am writing this post. I do believe I have to let go in order to go on. There is a chance we will not stay in this Galaxy and I do not want to leave with the gut feeling I am running away.
For one thing now more then ever I am sure I have not done anything wrong. There is absolutely no reason why I should feel ashamed, which is exactly what I had been doing for a long time. Shame on me to trust someone! Shame on me because I wasn’t smart enough to sign a contract. I was angry because I let down my guard and opened my heart so much to invite the person to witness one of the most emotional moments in a women’s life. I was raging with anger back on myself, because I’ve started to close that same heart to people near and dear and above all I closed it for myself.
Now it is time to let go of the shame and anger. Since I am still not that high in my Master skills as Jesus was, I will have to say I still do hope Karma will have it’s say on this. I have managed to open my heart back again to a wonderful group of teachers. Together we started to make beautiful things. Our first joined project was to support women who need it the most. Everything was synchronised and perfect. A rainy saggy night became enchanted. The magic opened my heart a wee bit and I was able to see what I have been missing this last two years. Some self love to start with. I almost started to hate this ancient practice as much as myself. On many levels it became pure business.
Finally I’ve realised it doesn’t matter. I am my only hope (Sorry Obi I do love you still). The way I approach it, the way I teach it, the way I use it. If my way (and feel free to put old Franky boy here in the background) is to help myself and others none of the Imperial forces can’t hurt us. Force is stronger when you’re holding a green lightsaber.
Namaste and May The Force Be With You
This pose comes as an alternative to Downward-Facing Dog pose, in situations where you experience hand or wrist problems while staying in the standard Down Dog pose. This is exactly what started happening to me lately. It is not an easy pose, but I do find that it adds to the strength in the shoulders and in the upper back in a safe way.
This is how you do it.
The starting position is standing on all fours with hands and knees on the floor, knees under hips and lower arms and palms on the mat. Now, curl your toes and lift knees while exhaling. Knees can stay bended if you need some time to get heels closer to the ground. Your back will be the guidance for this – if the upper back rounds then keep your knees bended.
It is important not to let your ego (that would like to see your heels on the mat) take you to the place where your back will not be happy at all. If yoga had become a part of your life, then your body and mind are always looking to reach the next level, which is fine. But unlike video games, you only have one body so please do not rush. Please be gentle while practicing. Even better, practice to be gentle.
It is only then you will start to feel all the benefits from yoga. Your shoulders and upper back will open, giving your upper body strength to keep your spine in the correct position. Just let go of the thoughts that may come to your mind and focus on your breath. After five deep breaths lower your knees down to rest in a Child Pose and notice how good you feel after doing this.
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It is full moon tonight. Traditionally Yogis don’t practice on the day before the full moon. Traditionally every month, no matter how much in advance I circle that shiny full moon there is screaming all over our place. For some reason I have a hope that I will avoid the fuss if I prepare myself well enough. If I practice enough. Yap, the same way the Werewolf hopes he can control his transformation by looking at his reflection. Bottom line is – I can try to prepare myself for the emotional imbalance, but to expect it from a five and two year old (or 33 year old male for that matter)? Asking a wee bit too much?
I was going through a bad period, to put it mildly, after my son was born. The pain from the pelvic girdle pain (PGP) just got worse after the birth. Unlike in all the other 90% cases in which the PGP was miraculously cured once the baby was born. Also, comparing myself to those 90% did not help. A long waiting list with NHS physiotherapist didn’t help either. I spent money we didn’t have on a private physiotherapist and cranial therapist that didn’t really know how to help me. I always wanted to give my kids everything but at those moments, deprived of sleep and alone with them all day, I was not able to pick them up and put them in a swing. A wee bit too much? Too much for sanity, for sure.
I think it would be understatement to say I hated myself and the world around me. Full moon for me was every bloody night. From today’s point of view I am sure I didn’t handle it very well. Yes I did the best I could at that moment. The best from what they’ve taught me. I would keep all the pain in me until it didn’t have anywhere else to go. And then it would explode. The rage, the tears, the lack of sleep. To everything and everyone in my way. Two year old tantrum is nothing compare to those outbursts. In front of children of course because we don’t have grandparents here to take them for a walk while I cry or scream or bang my head against the wall or do anything that might help me. At first they would just look at me scared and confused. But I didn’t stop. Regular intervals of insanity every few weeks. And then they started to imitate. Wherever and whenever they would feel sad, angry or scared.
Yes, that is when I realized this is going to stop. My mind is analytic. That is the way I deal with things. It didn’t take me long to realize that the thing I was thinking is helping was totally and absolutely wrong. Holding pain and discomfort inside you. Not doing anything to even try and bring the balance back. The answer? No, my dear, you can’t come home at 6pm, because I have to do exercises before I start making dinner and putting boys to sleep. No I can’t do this yoga class although we need the money, because first I have to heal myself. No, I will not do the weekly shopping alone with two of them running around the shop and me carrying heavy bags up the hill and up the the stairs. No I will not do the laundry now, because after three sleepless nights in a row I just need to stare at the wall. I just need to let go.
So one thing I had to do was just the opposite of what everyone taught me. If I had allowed myself to ‘scream’ from the very first moment in which I felt I couldn’t get up instead of suffering from the physical pain and hated myself for doing it, possibly the muscles and joints would heal quicker. Possibly my imbalance would start to move toward balance. For sure I would not be looney mum throwing things around the house.
And from today’s point of view I conclude I will not try to control my kids in that way. Fool moon or not. I will keep an eye so they don’t injure themselves. I will be there to help and comfort them. But screaming or hitting a pillow because your younger brother just ruined one-hour work building a castle is actually the best thing you can do. For your sanity. For your health. Crying because your older brother just took your wee Minion and hide it, well what else can you do if you don’t talk yet and you are too small to reach that shelf. I hope he will never have to, but in case he does come face to face with injustice, he will raise hell until justice is undone. The same way he is doing it now.
I am hoping that one day when some old fart takes their place in a theatre because they were late for the show they would silently ‘scream’ into his ear so he would move his pretentious ass from the seat they’ve paid for. Instead of shivering from inside with rage because he not only refuses to move but is accusing them that it is their fault he is sitting there. Which is what I would do myself few months ago. Now I am just looking forward to meet likes of him. Which is why I don’t see them. And that is good. And it feels good.
My Yoga practice tonight? Well doing my pelvic floor exercises while hauling on the Moon should be grounding and liberating at the same time. Enough to manage all the imbalance in the home without blood being spilt.
Namaste to all the beasts inside us. It is great to know when is their time to come out.
Yoga practise and breathing can help you through different stages of labour. Massage and reflexology can reduce the pain.
Prepare yourself and your partner. Be ready for the most emotional moment in your life. Come to the two-hours Prepare for Birth Workshop that will give you all you need just for that.
6th December 2015
OMH Therapies, 1a Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 7TH
45£ or early bird discount 35£ if you book by 15th November
Beside practical tips and techniques the Workshop includes:
- How to use yoga postures and breathing techniques during labour
- Benefits of massage and reflexology points
- How to reduce fear and stress
- Hands-on assistance for partners to offer full support
Women and their partners at birth (male and/or female birth partners, mothers, sisters, friends and doulas) are welcome at any stage in their pregnancy. Refreshments will be available throughout the workshop.